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20110312
20110312
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across the pacific to the u.s. reaching the west coast. japan declares a state of emergency at a nuclear plant as radiation levels surge. the area around it is evacuated. and the ring of fire. why this area of the pacific is so vulnerable to earthquakes. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. >> couric: good evening, everyone. it is saturday morning in japan. the sun is up and the extent of the catastrophe is becoming painfully clear. it's been nearly 24 hours since a powerful earthquake touched off a huge tsunami that swept across japan's east coast. the quake, a magnitude 8.9, was the fifth-largest in modern history. centered off japan's northeast coast, it was felt for 1,300 miles. very early reports say more than 400 people are dead. japan's kyoto news agency says the final number is expected to top 1,000. most of the victims drowned. nearly 1,000 are reported injured, more than 500 are missing. and four million homes and businesses lost power. the first estimate of the damage: $10 billion. that dama
are soaring and the area is being evacuated. most flights between the u.s. and japan have been canceled, and there were fear it is tsunami would pound the u.s., but by the time the waves reached hawaii and the west coast this morning, they had lost most of their punch. president obama said he's heartbroken by the disaster. u.s. assistance is already on the way to japan. lucy craft is there. >> reporter: the monster quake, thought to be the largest in japan's history triggered a ferocious series of tsunamis. a 23-foot wall of water poured over the northern japanese coastline with little warning. only minutes after the quick hit sweeping away everything and everyone in its path. cars were tossed like toys. boats were battered by the tides. this tanker was swept up on to the shore. another ship fought to escape a massive whirlpool. and the state of the boat and its crew is unknown. >> a tsunami obviously coming in several sweeps. >> reporter: minutes later a a second deadly wave. surging water overtook coastal city streets, ripping fishing boats from their moorings and swamping buildings.
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